Patient-Reported Outcomes in Phase 3 Clinical Trials for Blood Cancers: A Systematic Review

JAMA Netw Open. 2024 Jun 3;7(6):e2414425. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2024.14425.

Abstract

Importance: Published research suggests that patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are neither commonly collected nor reported in randomized clinical trials (RCTs) for solid tumors. Little is known about these practices in RCTs for hematological malignant neoplasms.

Objective: To evaluate the prevalence of PROs as prespecified end points in RCTs of hematological malignant neoplasms, and to assess reporting of PROs in associated trial publications.

Evidence review: All issues of 8 journals known for publishing high-impact RCTs (NEJM, Lancet, Lancet Hematology, Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Blood, JAMA, and JAMA Oncology) between January 1, 2018, and December 13, 2022, were searched for primary publications of therapeutic phase 3 trials for adults with hematological malignant neoplasms. Studies that evaluated pretransplant conditioning regimens, graft-vs-host disease treatment, or radiotherapy as experimental treatment were excluded. Data regarding trial characteristics and PROs were extracted from manuscripts and trial protocols. Univariable analyses assessed associations between trial characteristics and PRO collection or reporting.

Findings: Ninety RCTs were eligible for analysis. PROs were an end point in 66 (73%) trials: in 1 trial (1%) as a primary end point, in 50 (56%) as a secondary end point, and in 15 (17%) as an exploratory end point. PRO data were reported in 26 of 66 primary publications (39%): outcomes were unchanged in 18 and improved in 8, with none reporting worse PROs with experimental treatment. Trials sponsored by for-profit entities were more likely to include PROs as an end point (49 of 55 [89%] vs 17 of 35 [49%]; P < .001) but were not significantly more likely to report PRO data (20 of 49 [41%] vs 6 of 17 [35%]; P = .69). Compared with trials involving lymphoma (18 of 29 [62%]) or leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome (18 of 28 [64%]), those involving plasma cell disorders or multiple myeloma (27 of 30 [90%]) or myeloproliferative neoplasms (3 of 3 [100%]) were more likely to include PROs as an end point (P = .03). Similarly, compared with trials involving lymphoma (3 of 18 [17%]) or leukemia or myelodysplastic syndrome (5 of 18 [28%]), those involving plasma cell disorders or multiple myeloma (16 of 27 [59%]) or myeloproliferative neoplasms (2 of 3 [67%]) were more likely to report PROs in the primary publication (P = .01).

Conclusions and relevance: In this systematic review, almost 3 of every 4 therapeutic RCTs for blood cancers collected PRO data; however, only 1 RCT included PROs as a primary end point. Moreover, most did not report resulting PRO data in the primary publication and when reported, PROs were either better or unchanged, raising concern for publication bias. This analysis suggests a critical gap in dissemination of data on the lived experiences of patients enrolled in RCTs for hematological malignant neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials, Phase III as Topic*
  • Hematologic Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Patient Reported Outcome Measures*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*